Elsa Schiaparelli: The Mother of Extravagant Fashion

Elsa Schiaparelli: the groundbreaking Italian-French fashion designer of the 20th century

Unfortunately, she is still often overshadowed despite her significant contributions to fashion and art. Well known for her signature “Shocking” magenta color, she redefined 20th-century fashion with innovations drawn from Surrealism to new items like graphic knitwear, lightning closures, and the wrap dress.

Born in Rome in 1890, Schiaparelli’s unconventional fashion creations led her from Italy to Paris, establishing a successful fashion company. Collaborating with Dali and Cocteau in the 1930s she blurred art and fashion boundaries. Her Surrealist couture, like the tear dress of 1938, prefigured later designers like Alexander McQueen. During WWII, she fled to New York, aiding Duchamp in organizing an exhibition for French relief. Despite a post-war comeback, economic shifts led to her farewell show in 1954, followed by bankruptcy. Chanel’s rise overshadowed Schiaparelli’s legacy.

Elsa Schiaparelli – cc: @thejewelryloupe

Nevertheless, Schiaparelli’s spirit still seems to be state-of-the-art.: In 2007 Diego Della Valle, head of the Tod’s Group, incorporated the Schiaparelli perfume business and brand rights. Trying to pump life into the brand, he brought on Christian Lacroix in 2013, but that plan fizzled out. Later Marco Zanini entered as Creative Director. In 2014, the brand dropped its first clothing line since ’54, reopening a swanky boutique at 21 Place Vendôme, Paris. Bertrand Guyon took the creative reins in 2015, launching his debut collection the same year. Then, in 2019, Texan trendsetter Daniel Roseberry snagged the baton from Guyon, making history as the first American to steer a French couture house. While Guyon dug deep into Schiaparelli’s archives for inspiration, Roseberry aimed for the vibe rather than straight-up throwbacks, channeling Elsa Schiaparelli’s spirit instead.

Nowadays, celebrities like Kylie Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Lady Gaga offer huge support to the brand by displaying Schiaparelli Fashion on public occasions and social media with couture dresses, which supports the label enormously. Schiaparelli is returning to be well-known as an extravagant high fashion label.

Kylie Jenner wearing a custom Schiaparelli Haute Couture gown designed by Creative Director Daniel Roseberry – cc: @RTE

Schiaparelli: Ready-To-Wear SS24 – cc: @10magazineusa

“Phoebus” Cape, Elsa Schiaparelli – cc: @palaisgalliera

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